LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City recorded a 17th straight Premier League victory in a ruthless 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday as Sergio Aguero scored twice, with Raheem Sterling and Danilo also finding the net.
Pep Guardiola’s team are ripping up the record books this season and Bournemouth had no answer to their all-round dominance on an afternoon when hard work rather than flair was the key to success.
The runaway league leaders again showed they are simply too good this season and in the process became the first side since Liverpool in 1982 to score 100 English top-flight goals in a calendar year.
Bournemouth dropped into the relegation zone, but could console themselves that of the 19 teams City have faced in the league this term, only Everton have managed to avoid defeat.
The visitors’ cause was not helped by the absence of England international Jermain Defoe, who limped out of their mid-week loss to Chelsea, and Harry Arter, was also absent with calf trouble.
Vincent Kompany returned to City’s starting line-up for the first time since injuring himself against Manchester United on December 10 and that gave the already confident home side a further boost.
Bournemouth’s slender hopes of success at the Etihad Stadium received a further blow after 12 minutes when Junior Stanislas pulled up following a shot at goal and had to go off with an apparent hamstring complaint.
City then turned up the tempo as Aguero chipped over when well placed before visiting goalkeeper Asmir Begovic brilliantly blocked a long-range strike from Nicolas Otamendi.
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth played with a 5-4-1 formation when not on the ball, but they then had no defensive answer after 27 minutes when Aguero nodded home the opener to score his 100th goal at the Etihad.
City pressed Bournemouth hard, Fernandinho delivered a fine curling cross and Aguero did the rest, diving to head past the onrushing Begovic.
To Bournemouth’s credit, the goal did not open the floodgates immediately and they remained fast and feisty, but the gulf of quality between the two sides was more than apparent.
After the interval, a wonderful last-gasp Steve Cook challenge prevented David Silva from sweeping home from six yards out as City flew out of the blocks.
Shortly after Cook’s intervention, City claimed their second when Sterling finished a fine move by thrashing a low effort past Begovic following a through ball from Aguero.
The goal capped off a difficult week for the England international, who on Wednesday saw a man jailed for 16 weeks for racially abusing and attacking him prior to last weekend’s 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Bournemouth visibly wilted after Sterling’s intervention and City began to camp out in the opposition’s third.
Aguero made it 3-0 after 79 minutes when he beat Begovic with a header from six yards out and Danilo added further sheen to the scoreline as he slotted home from 10 yards out with five minutes remaining.